The Same Spirit and Power as Elijah
Luke 1:11-20 - Then an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah. The angel was standing at the right side of the incense altar. When Zechariah saw him, he was amazed and terrified. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will have a child. It will be a boy, and you must call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you. His birth will make many people very glad. He will be important in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or other such drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will prepare the way for the Lord. He will have the same spirit and power that Elijah had. He will bring peace between parents and their children. He will teach people who don’t obey to be wise and do what is right. In this way, he will prepare a people who are ready for the Lord.” (NIrV)
Devotional Series: John the Baptist - A Prelude to Greatness
The life and story of John the Baptist can only be fully appreciated in light of his parents and the prophecy of his miraculous birth. To that end, one of the most striking features of this passage is the reference to John having the same spirit and power as Elijah.
If you were to ask anyone about the ministry of Elijah, they would conclude that it was littered with the miraculous. Most people if praying for the same giftings as Elijah would expect an anointing to raise the dead, speak directly with God or cause it to rain. This is understandable because this is what the Bible records him as doing. Also, in the ministry of Elisha, the one Elijah anointed in his stead (1 Kings 19:16), we see the same type of miraculous ministry.
But in this passage and is so often the case in the Bible, God throws a spanner in the works. What we expect to see is usually not what actually is. John is predicted to have the same spirit and power as Elijah, but here, just as in Malachi, this is connected to his message of bringing peace between parents and their children and teaching people what is right.
Malachi 4:5-6 - “I will send the prophet Elijah to you. He will come before the day of the Lord arrives. It will be a great and terrifying day. Elijah will bring peace between parents and their children. He will also bring peace between children and their parents. If that does not happen, I will come. And I will completely destroy the land.” (NIrV)
Jesus Christ referred to John as Elijah but here is the thing, John did not perform one miracle. What made John most like Elijah was not what he did but what he said.
Matthew 11:14 - If you are willing to accept it, John is the Elijah who was supposed to come. (NIrV)
Why is this important for us today? It is a reminder to us that what we often major on, is not what concerns God and is of little importance to Him. What we think may be the main component of our ministry or call may in fact, in the eyes of God, be a side project. This is a reminder to us that God’s ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). It doesn’t mean that we are to ignore aspects of our calling but perhaps we ought to humbly pursue our calling accepting and knowing that we may not see things the way God sees things.